The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant, or BGCAPP, safely destroyed the chemical weapons stockpile stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot. Most of the chemical weapons were destroyed using neutralization. However, an explosive destruction technology (EDT) was needed to destroy some of the chemical munitions that were difficult to process in the main plant. The EDT chosen to augment the main plant was the Static Detonation Chamber (SDC).
A 2011 X-ray assessment of the chemical weapons stockpile in Kentucky confirmed the solidification of mustard agent in a significant number of 155mm projectiles, rendering them unsuitable for automated processing in the main plant. These problematic munitions, together with some 200 mustard projectiles that leaked in the past and were overpacked in larger sealed containers, required a different approach for their destruction. To resolve this issue, an SDC destroyed all the approximately 15,000 mustard projectiles, as well as two 3-gallon Department of Transportation bottles containing mustard agent. The campaign was completed in September 2021.
That SDC underwent upgrades to accommodate the destruction of nerve agent, including a new off-gas treatment system, to become the SDC 1200. It began operations in October 2023 and is destroying containerized rocket warheads (CRWs) containing residual amounts of VX nerve agent after being drained in the main plant during the previous operations phase, considered agent-contaminated secondary waste.
A larger SDC, known as the SDC 2000, began operations in January 2023 and destroyed undrained rocket warheads, overpacked M55 rockets, M55 rockets that were unsuitable for processing in the main plant during operations and overpacked contaminated and non-contaminated rocket motors during the plant’s operations phase. It is now destroying CRWs containing residual amounts of GB nerve agent after being drained in the main plant, also considered agent-contaminated secondary waste. SDC activities will continue throughout the plant’s closure phase.
The SDC uses thermal destruction technology to destroy the waste. The CRWs are placed in a feed box by automated equipment, conveyed to the top of the SDC vessel and fed into the electrically heated detonation chamber. The high heat (approximately 600 degrees Celsius or 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit) destroys the residual chemical agent and thermally decontaminates the metal parts.